Romper

Dylan Klebold's Mom Shares Her Parenting Mistakes & They're Heartbreakingly Human

It's hard to believe that the Columbine High School tragedy was almost 17 years ago. Now, after all these years, the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the Columbine shooters, will speak publicly about how she's come to terms with the fact that the child she raised could commit such an unspeakable act of violence in her first-ever interview about the tragedy. And, most importantly, Sue Klebold will share the critical parenting mistake she made, and that many parents probably make — being convinced that everything was OK, and that she didn't need to reach out for help.

In addition to an interview with Diane Sawyer airing Friday on 20/20 Klebold said she obviously feels terrible and that she thinks about her son's victims every day. She's written a book called A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy, and she said the proceeds will go to mental health research and charities.

As she sits there talking in the preview video of the interview, it's striking how normal she seems: like any other woman out there who loved her baby and believed she was a "good mom." Because, in reality, she was.

"Part of the shock of this was that learning that what I believed and how I lived and parented was an invention in my own mind," Klebold told Sawyer. "That it was a completely different world that he was living in."

Every mother needs to hear what she's saying, even though it's a difficult message. Parents can't allow their love for their child to blind them to whatever problems they know — in their gut — lie below the surface. Parent the kid you have, not some fantasy. No kid is perfect. Every kid has needs and it's a mother's job to meet those needs. Because your love can't protect them from everything, not even themselves.

The current iteration of motherhood reinforces this lie that what matters most is creating this Pinterest-perfect life filled with nothing but warmth, love, and hand-painted wooden signs with saccharine quotes. But that's not enough. Kids need tools to cope, and that requires more. It's harder to discipline and correct than love. The love is easy. And it's harder still to admit there is something really wrong, like a serious mental illness. But the stakes are too high to live an illusion.

Just across town from where I live, yet another school shooting happened at Independence High School in Glendale, Ariz. Early reports said at least one person was killed and two more were injured. Even though I don't really know the specifics of the incident, I can't help but think about another parent like Sue Klebold having their dream shattered that everything is fine with their kid and that their love is enough. Because love isn't all it takes to parent. And that's the real, beautiful piece of advice everyone should take away from Kelbold's terrible pain, guilt, and loss.